Friday, February 26, 2010

Beauty sells insomnia meds

This direct response ad for Nocturnix, an insomnia supplement, recently running in Newsweek probably attracted a few eyeballs. It got our attention: An oversized closeup of a beautiful woman's face will stop traffic whether it has any connection to the product or not.

A quick analysis of this ad's strategy, using a woman for decorative purposes, might bring our attention to the "beautiful is good" paradigm. Developed by social psychologists and marketers, this theory says people's interpersonal relationships, judgments, and beliefs might be affected by their own beauty and their perceptions of beauty in others. When advertisers use this strategy, they are counting on this "benefit" to their products or services. So, when viewing this ad, the consumer might think this equation: beautiful woman = good product.

Using the "beautiful is good" theory, companies combine physically attractive employees with sexualized contexts to attract attention, brand products and sell merchandise. Read more about it in "Erotic Encounters: Female Employees and Promotional Activities" in Sex in Consumer Culture: The Erotic Content of Media and Marketing (2006), co-edited by Tom Reichert and Jacqueline Lambiase.

Want to read more the role of physical attractiveness in marketing? Check out these scholars: Ashmore, Solomon, & Longo, 1996; Dion, Berscheid, & Walster, 1972; Patzer, 1985; and Reingen, Ronkainen, & Gresham, 1981.

--Guest post contributed by Jacqueline Lambiase

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Manscaping: Men managing their body hair

Are you worried about your hair down there? Are you insecure about how it looks? No, these aren’t questions directed to women, but to men. Taking care of “hair down there” is typically a concern for women. Remember the recent Schick Quattro videos urging women to “mow the lawn?”

But Gillette is tapping into the male landscaping theme. A comparison of two studies shows that since 2005 the percentage of men engaging hair removal increased from 63% to over 80% (Boroughs et al., 2005; Nytimes, 2009).

Gillette’s art of manscaping has gained a lot attention for its informational website. It tells men how to groom their armpits, head, chest, legs, and groin. In one scene, it features a young man in a towel swaggering into an animated forest while the narrator states, “If you want to see the tree you shouldn’t have to blaze a trail to get there. Trees look taller when there is no underbrush.” Near the man is a scantily dressed “girl scout” seductively eyeing him up and down.

The Web site not only tells men why to shave their groins, but how to shave them. This section states Gillette’s catch phrase, “trimming the bush to make the tree look taller,” twice as a cartoon man illustrates the step-by-step process to looking larger, but warns to be careful and not “put the equipment at risk.” The phrase “make the tree look taller” and the imagery allows for the male audiences to make a logical connection between the product and their personal size.

The “groin” how-to video has garnered over 2 million views on YouTube and over 2,000 comments. The comments—by both men and women—reveal mixed feelings about overly groomed men. Overall, Gillette does a good job identifying and voicing reasons men may want to consider manscaping. At the very least, Gillette is effectively tapping into the male grooming trend.

--Posted by Allison Einsiedel

Monday, February 08, 2010

SoBe's Ashley Greene dons skinsuit in 2010 Swimsuit Issue

In the upcoming 2010 edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, the movie star Ashley Greene (of the "Twilight" series fame) will appear nude, in a sense.

The young actress has stripped down to her birthday suit for a photo-shoot to feature prominently in the famous sports magazine, however it isn’t quite Playboy. No, Greene is sporting a bathing suit, a painted on bathing suit.

The photo shoot is actually an elaborate advertising campaign for drink manufacturer SoBe’s “Lifewater” drinks.

In fact, when I visited the SoBe website, the homepage has been redesigned so that the entire background is one of the pictures from Greene’s photo-shoot. On the website you can view numerous pictures of Greene sporting a various painted-on bathing suits. The style of the bathing suit is obviously supposed to resemble scales, a reference to SoBe’s lizard mascot. A video the photo shoot can also be found on online.

This blurring of advertising and content isn’t the first time that Sports Illustrated has featured a woman wearing nothing but paint. In fact, as recently as the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, not one, but multiple women wearing nothing but the painted skin on their backs. So what makes Ashley Greene doing it so special? Well, a couple things.

First of all, Ashley Greene is best known for playing the character, Alice Cullen in the insanely popular, book-turned-movie franchise, "Twilight." I know very little about the "Twilight" series, and while I have never actually seen any of the movies (or read the books from that part) I am aware that her role is prominent. The headline “Twilight Star to appear nearly nude in Magazine.” Is bound to attract some attention due to the popularity of movie franchise.

Secondly, this is not the first time that, Greene has appeared naked on camera. In August of 2009 amateur nude photos surfaced on the internet. While legal action was taken by Greene and her attorney in order to remove the pictures, the images had already spread across the internet.

So here is a young, attractive actress who is a part of a massively popular movie-franchise who also has gained a bit of a status as a sex symbol due to an nude picture incident. It’s not an original tale, not by a long shot, but it is one that people seem to be fascinated with. And it’s a tale that SoBe is implementing to read the rewards of market share.

--Posted by Zachary Taylor